Referee Guidelines

Suitability of Papers for Biometrics

The International Biometric Society, which publishes Biometrics, is an international society promoting the development and application of statistical and mathematical theory and methods in the biosciences, including agriculture, biomedical science and public health, ecology, environmental sciences, forestry, and allied disciplines. Accordingly, papers suitable for Biometrics should be in this general spirit.

Papers may be submitted to one of four sections of the journal; the manuscript number assigned to the paper will indicate the section for which it is being considered; the section will also be indicated in our electronic submission system, where you will access the paper. Papers should be evaluated according to the criteria of the indicated section. Descriptions of the sections are as follows (these are also available under the Author Guidelines, under Types of Sections):

Biometric Methodology - manuscript numbers with suffix "M"

This section is designed for papers that focus on the development of new methods and results of use in the biosciences. These should where possible be made accessible to biologists and other subject-matter scientists by the inclusion of an introductory section outlining the application and scientific objectives on which the new methods focus, with discussion of real data or settings that exemplify the issue being addressed. The journal typically insists on illustration of new methods with real data wherever possible. Extensive mathematical derivations and proofs should be removed to an appendix.

It is expected that most non-statisticians would not be able to read and understand these papers in their entirety. The introductory section should provide a description of the applied problem the new methods are meant to address and a discussion of the need for the new methods at a conceptual level, so that the contribution of the paper could be understood by a non-statistician.

Biometric Practice - manuscript numbers with suffix "P"

This section is designed for the following types of papers:

Papers in this section may, but do not need to, contain new methodology. The key of a successful publication in the section is its ability to provide practical contributions, biological insight, and/or significant new findings.

Reader Reaction - manuscript numbers with suffix "R" 

This section is designed for papers that refer directly to articles previously published in the journal. These may describe extensions of or improvements to methods developed in a published article, offer alternative perspectives to those advocated in a published article, or raise relevant issues unaddressed in a published article, in each case supported by appropriate justification.

Letters to the Editors - manuscript numbers with suffix "L" 

This section is designed for short comments on content appearing previously in the journal.

Biometrics stresses the application of statistics and mathematics to the biosciences. Consequently, regardless of section, Biometrics papers should emphasize the relevance and usefulness of methodological developments to the subject-matter science. Papers presenting new results in "pure" mathematical statistics are not generally acceptable and cannot be made so by perfunctory references to possible biometric applications. These papers more properly belong in journals reaching an audience with less specialized interests.

This is not meant to imply that Biometrics papers should not involve technical developments if these are relevant to addressing the applied challenges. Thus, advanced mathematical treatment is acceptable where it forms an essential part of the paper. Wherever possible, however, extensive and unavoidable technical arguments and details should be separated from the main paper, so that the exposition focuses on the more applied aspects. If such arguments are very short, they may appear in a brief appendix at the end of the paper. Otherwise, such arguments and details should be presented in appendices appearing in Supplementary Web Materials; for published papers, these materials are posted on the journal website. The journal policy on such materials is given under under the Author Guidelines, under Notes on the preparation of papers,  Supplementary Materials.

Artificial examples, though sometimes unavoidable, are particularly unsatisfactory in a journal like Biometrics; wherever possible, papers should include illustrations involving genuine applications and data. Interpretation of results in the context of the subject matter is encouraged where appropriate.


The Associate Editor is your point of contact for the paper you have been asked to review. S/he will have sent you an email invitation to serve as a referee through our ScholarOne electronic submission system. Please respond as soon as possible and confirm your acceptance of the invitation by following the instructions in this email. If you cannot review the paper, we would appreciate greatly if you would provide to the Associate Editor the names and email addresses, if possible, for alternative qualified reviewers.

If you have any questions or concerns while you are reviewing the paper, please contact the Associate Editor (rather than contacting the Co-Editors, Executive Editor, or Editorial Managers).

Please submit your report by logging into the ScholarOne system and providing the following:

If the decision of the Co-Editor handling the paper is to solicit a revision, you will typically be asked to serve as referee for the first revision and subsequent revisions. In this event, you will receive an email invitation from the Associate Editor through the ScholarOne system asking that you review the revision for responsiveness to your criticisms from the last round of review and that you again prepare reports as described above. Special considerations for reviewing revised papers are given in the next section.

Considerations for Preparing Reports

Every journal must rely heavily on the cooperation of referees whose recommendations form the basis of editorial decisions. Please make your comments as constructive as possible. Here are some general guidelines.

Time to Review

Biometrics is committed to maintaining swift times to review; currently, our review times are among the shortest in the statistical profession. Please submit your report within 4 weeks of agreeing to serve as a referee.

If the requested time frame for completing your review falls during a very busy time (e.g., preceding a grant deadline), so that you anticipate that you would be unable to submit your report in a timely fashion, we would prefer that you decline the invitation to review and provide the Associate Editor with the names/contact information of other qualified reviewers.

If you have agreed to review a paper and find that you are having difficulty meeting the time limit, please notify the Associate Editor and let him/her know and inform him/her as to when s/he may expect to receive your report. The Associate Editor, Editorial Managers, and/or Executive Editor may query you by email if your report is outstanding; we would be grateful for your prompt reply to these queries.

As you undoubtedly know, review times for statistical journals are considerably longer than those in many other disciplines. This has been a continuing issue for our profession that has been documented repeatedly over the years. Remarks on the review process were given in an enlightened discussion by Leon Jay Gleser in the American Statistician (1985, volume 4, pages 310-312). Also see the IMS Bulletin (1995, volume 24, #6, pages 607-608) for an interesting discussion. Former Editor Raymond J. Carroll presented a commentary in Biometrics (2001, volume 57, pages 1-6); this is also available as a PDF file, and Former Executive Editor Marie Davidian presented a commentary in the September 2013 issue of the Amstat News.